Riparian Preserve at Gilbert Water Ranch, Maricopa County, AZ

Sunday, June 26th
Arriving early at Gilbert Water Ranch under a cloudy sky and a moderate desert temperature of 88°F, I was curious as to what birds I might find after our really really hot spell. 

At the front east-side cactus garden, a GILA WOODPECKER’S face was buried in a saguaro for whatever breakfast treat it enjoyed.

Female Gila Woodpecker (no red on its head)

From the east-side entrance trail, the first pond across the grass and picnic area contained enough water and mudflats to get me off to a good start.

While NORTHERN SHOVELERS might number as high as 50 or more at this Pond 7 in January, today I was surprised to see any at all — two. 

Several AMERICAN AVOCET and BLACK-NECKED STILTS preferred the shallow edges and mudflats.

American Avocet waving its bill back and forth through the water to stir up food

Black-necked Stilt

Scanning the far edges of the pond, I was surprised to see two YELLOW-HEADED BLACKBIRDS land in the mudflats closer to me. I rarely see them at these ponds, so I quickly pulled my camera. Just as I was about to click on a frame including both of these female YHBL, they took off, but I got the single shot.

Yellow-headed Blackbird (female)

Very close to the shore where I stood, a large fish (sucker? carp?) was spawning (laying eggs). Then I noticed fish were close to the surface at several spots in the lake, apparently doing the same thing.  For anyone who knows or likes to fish, here are some photos. 

Fishing is allowed only in the Fishing Pond — the pond located directly behind the Gilbert Library where parking is available.  [SE corner of Greenfield & Guadalupe]

GAMBEL’S QUAIL were vocal in various spots and I found two scooting across the dry side of Pond 7.

It was amazing to hear so many SONG SPARROWS singing loudly. Our Southwestern species is much lighter than Song Sparrows in other parts of the country — its feathers being pale reddish brown. Wouldn't you know, it turned its back on me!

An AMERICAN KESTREL was perched high on the framework of a platform — too high, really, for a good photo, but here it is--enough to identify it, but not much more. 

American Kestrel
When I tried for a clear shot of a LESSER SCAUP, it was so close to a Canada Goose on land, that I ended up liking all the feathers on the goose better than the less commonly seen scaup.

Female Lesser Scaup swimming; Canada Goose preening

At another almost-empty pond, several KILLDEER had the water’s edge all to themselves and seemed to enjoy it. They weren’t even spooked by me.

At a later pond with scant water, a WHITE-FACED IBIS flew in and landed briefly.

Walking from pond to pond, I had lost count of the bazillion Desert Cottontails but there were no less than 100 out and about cavorting in the dry ponds and on the trails I walked.

ABERT’S TOWHEE are most often running on the ground there and hiding under shrubs. Today, they were up in the shrub so I wanted to take a few photos. It was about a year ago that Margie Reed called my attention to that bird in her west side portion of our community. It was the first time I became aware of its presence there, so I added it to my BYB list (Back Yard Birds). This year, I have one coming to the water I keep fresh in a “frisbee” watering spot in my back yard.  It’s sharp clear teek call is its way of keeping in touch with the rest of its family. It's pretty much a plain brown bird with black face, dark tail and rufous color at the lower end of its body where the tail begins.

Albert's Towhee

SNOWY EGRETS are delightful anytime, anyplace.  I saw just two today, but expect there were more.

And, a phenomenon I haven’t seen in quite a while was a treat this morning — a sundog.

Definitely glad I visited the Water Ranch this morning. Noted 42 species in less than two hours. Delightful sightings!

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  1. Looks like a fun morning out. The YHBL is a great find!!!

  2. Thanks! But,the birds you're seeing are unbelievable! Way to go! Life List is growing, I'm sure!!